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Magazine Mountain Star Party

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I met Ray Desmarais on the #sciastro chat line and he invited me to the Mount Magazine Star Party. SInce I was going to be in the neighborhood anyway, I told him I would be there. Ray and his son, who is also named Ray, met me on top of the mountain and I helped them set up the 36 inch F5 scope they had borrowed from a friend and repaired for the star party. That's it pictured above.

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Ray also had his F3.5 22" there too and it was equipped with an alt az electronic finder, which made finding stuff real easy. This scope has one of Ray's special light weight mirrors which he manufactures in Arkansas. The scope gave fine images and was easy to use due to that short focal length. Usually you could observe without any elevation.

We used the 36" to look at Jupiter and could see much fine detail and lots of color even during twilight. Saturn was also very nice. It was no trouble seeing the crepe ring and Cassini's division. There was a storm cloud across the southern quarter of the planet paralleling the rings.

We looked at many objects including all of the familiar Messiers and several nice galaxies, but the finest view of the night was M42. The 36" aperture gathers enough light to activate the cones in the eye and the colors of the Orion Nebula came out richly. In addition it was easy to count ten stars in the area of the Trapezium. This was the most remarkable view of M42 I have ever experienced.

About midnight Tut Campbell and P. T. Barnam came up and said the Tut's computer hard drive had frozen up due to the cold and his CCD imaging efforts were terminated. I mentioned that I had my laptop with me and could hook it up since I had the CCD control program on it for the SBIG camera he was using. So we set it up and did some imaging with his ST6B on an LX200 12". I was impressed with how cold the ST6B could go -45C! This is much better than the ST7 and the results showed it. The typical exposure was only 30 seconds and unguided with very little drift. The resulting images were every bit as good as the 5 and 10 minute guided exposures I take with my ST7.

Here are a few of the images we took:

(Click on the thumbnail images below to view a larger image)
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